Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Chapman's Swift (Chaetura chapmani)


French: Martinet de Chapman German: Chapmansegler Spanish: Vencejo de Chapman
Other common names: Mato Grosso Swift (viridipennis)

Chætura chapmani


, 1907,

Caparo, Trinidad


Previously considered conspecific with C. pelagica and C. vauxi. Recent proposal to raise viridipennis to full species, but this is not universally accepted, being based on consistency in matching the accepted species status of two other taxa, C. pelagica and C. vauxi#R; five specimens of viridipennis in AMNH and USNM possess markedly longer wings than any of chapmani (as would be expected of a migratory population) and the two in AMNH are darker on underparts and rump, but these characters are greatly muted in the three in USNM; therefore, pending further clarification, viridipennis is retained as a subspecies. Nominate race may consist of two disjunct populations, representing different races, one in lowlands of N Colombia (and possibly Panama), the other from E Venezuela to NE Brazil, with intervening gap (W & N Venezuela) occupied by C. vauxi. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. chapmani Hellmayr, 1907 – Chapman's Swift – N & C Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad and the Guianas to NE Brazil; recorded also in C & E Panama, where status uncertain.
  • C. c. viridipennis Cherrie, 1916 – Amazonian Swift – E Peru and W Brazil; winters to N Colombia; status in S Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia unknown.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm; 20·75–28 g. Darker and more heavily glossed than most Chaetura, and most likely to be confused (at least in N of range) with C.... read more


    Main call is a long series of strident single notes, often accelerating and decelerating in pace “... read more


    Main habitats defined as tropical lowland evergreen forest, secondary forest and second-growth... read more

    Food and feeding

    Forages in mixed flocks with C. cinereiventris, C. spinicaudus and C. brachyura, as well as Streptoprocne... read more


    Nominate race breeds in wet season, late spring to early autumn; in Trinidad, nest in use early May to early Jun; viridipennis... read more


    Nominate race resident within its range; viridipennis a transequatorial migrant, with Mar... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. One of rarer South American swifts with few specimens or observations over an apparently wide distribution; precise limits of breeding range not well... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Chapman's Swift (Chaetura chapmani). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 18 February 2020).